For the past two months I've been trying to trap Momma Kitty, the grey feral tabby that showed up in December and then proceeded to give birth to four wonderful kittens. Getting the kittens fixed was easy, they'd go in the trap and I'd pull the string. Momma Kitty, proved much much harder.
The first problem with catching her was the kittens since having them in the picture meant I couldn't use a trip plate or some other mechanical trigger type trap because of the possibility they could go in and get caught. Instead, I would have to use the string/stick method where the door is propped open and then string pulled to trap. The second problem was that the spay and neuter clinic was only open one day a week on Wednesday morning. That meant trapping on Tuesday, which Momma seemed to know about, so sometimes she wouldn't show up.
The good news was that with the kittens, I got some practice working the trap. By the fourth kitten, I had refined my strategy enough that I felt I knew I could catch Momma, if given the chance. So last week, I put the trap out with the door wired open so the cats could go in and out to eat. On Sunday, I watched Momma going in the trap after the kittens had finished eating. I felt pretty confident now, finally, that I could catch her.
Just to make sure, I made a new stick that was 12" long and better suited to propping up the door. Then I repositioned the string from the middle of the stick towards the base to help guarantee that it wouldn't jam when I pulled it. On Tuesday, I got my chance.
Around 3:00pm, I looked out of the kitchen window and there was Momma sitting on the deck. She had missed eating in the morning so I figured she was hungry. Now was the time. I went and got trap and set it on the deck. Then I went into the bathroom where I had the string feeding out through the open window and waited.
Sure enough after a few minutes she showed up. At first she smelled the stick, and turned away from the trap, going over to the water bowl instead for a few minutes. After she finished drinking, I was thrilled to see her head back to the trap and begin cautiously moving inside. I was determined this time not to mess up.
One thing to remember about cats is that they are fast, very fast. I couldn't afford to startle her in any way or she'd be gone. So this time, I waited until she was well into the trap and gave her a couple of minutes to get into eating before I started. The string was not taught, so I needed to pull it in until it was. For about a minute, I slowly pulled in the string an inch or so at a time, pausing a few seconds between each pull. Finally the string was taught and I knew had her. One more tug and the door fell shut. At last, Momma was caught and I could get her to the clinic.
Yesterday morning I brought her in and got her back that afternoon with a clean bill of health, spayed. Glad this chapter is over. I hate trapping feral cats. I know it's the right thing to do, but I don't like having to put them through the stress just the same. Here's to hoping Momma Kitty and her kittens can forgive me.